Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Christ and the Holocaust

As another round of debates involving Christians and the holocaust takes place, there is something that people need to get right about Christ and the Holocaust: Christ was not the cause of the Holocaust. He was Himself a Jewish victim of antisemitism and His death was a holocaust.

The word “holocaust” is a sacrificial term. In places such as Genesis 22, the Greek translation of the Hebrew word “olah”, meaning “burnt offering” uses the word “holokauston” from which we get the word “holocaust”. And, although His sacrifice did not include being burnt, Jesus was nevertheless dying as a sacrifice and there was more than a little “anti-semitism” in the torment this particular Jew endured. Those Gentile soldiers relished the idea of taking their frustration out on all Jews by abusing one Jewish prisoner, calling Him the “King of the Jews.”

And where was God as all this was happening? That is the haunting question people ask regarding the 20th century “Shoah”. The answer in this case is that God was not indifferent as Jesus own personal “holocaust” went on. God was in Christ, the Messiah, reconciling the world to Himself, through the sacrifice His Jewish Son was making:

“ Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. ...For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5.19-21).